Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said on Saturday that Field Marshal KM Cariappa, independent India’s first army chief, should be conferred the Bharat Ratna. “Its time to recommend Field Marshal KM Cariappa for the Bharat Ratna,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.
Rawat said he would take up the issue with the Centre. “If others can get it, I see no reason why he should not, a deserving personality for the same. We will shortly address the issue on priority,” he said, as he unveiled the statues of Cariappa and General K S Thimayya, also a former Army chief who hailed from Kodagu district in Karnataka, at a function at the Cauvery College at Gonikoppal.
The Army chief ‘s comments came in response to a request by Colonel K C Subbayya from The Field Marshal Cariappa General Thimayya (FMCGT) forum about recommending the Bharat Ratna to Cariappa, who hails from Kodagu district in Karnataka.
Terming Kodagu (formerly Coorg) as a “land of warriors”, Rawat said he was proud, privileged and humbled for having got the opportunity to unveil the memorial in memory of Field Marshal Cariappa and General K S Thimayya. Kodagu continued to serve the nation with a large number of officers and men serving the Army, he said, and voiced hope that “there will be more Chiefs in the future who will rise from this great land”.
Cariappa was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Army and was conferred the rank of Field Marshal on April 28, 1986. He was also a recipient of the prestigious order of the British Empire (OBE) for his role in the Burma campaign against the Japanese during the Second World War.
Cariappa also led the Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pak War of 1947 and oversaw the division of the Army at the time of Partition. He held the five-star rank of field marshal, the highest honour in the Indian Army, which Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw is the only other officer to have held.
Cariappa, whose military career spanned over three decades, retired from the Army in 1953 and later served as the High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand till 1956. He died in Bengaluru in 1993 at the age of 94.